06 A spur to action

Much as I enjoyed campaigning with my friends, there was a stronger, and sadder, reason why I stayed loyal to Concorde. SCG followed the removal of Concorde G-BOAA (Alpha Alpha) from Heathrow, as one event in our crowded schedule of activities. Ross and Jenny were at the airport on the night when Alpha Alpha, with her wings sawn off and her nose and tail removed, was loaded onto the lorry that was to take her to the river and the waiting barge.

I went down to Isleworth the next day, for my first go at collecting signatures on the petition. It was just a task like all the other SCG jobs. And then I walked round the corner by the London Apprentice pub, and saw Alpha Alpha with her pitiful torn wings, and cried out in horror. I gazed and gazed. Then I turned and got to work.

Concorde G-BOAA on barge at Isleworth

A tragic sight
I went right down into the mud, to get as close as I could. This was the nearest I had ever been to a Concorde. I spent a long time looking at Alpha Alpha, vowing to make this right somehow.

I was alone, but I didn’t care. All afternoon I went up and down the bank, talking and persuading, and filling the sheets with names. There was no going back now. It was one thing to retire the Concordes, but this mutilation was something I could not bear. To me, it was as horrible as the recent destruction of the Buddhas at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. One of the world’s treasures had been irretrievably damaged. As I looked at the stricken aircraft, I knew I would never stop until a Concorde made it back into the air – some day, somehow, whatever it took.

That incident spurred me on to dedicate the next 11 years to the Save Concorde Group. I gave it everything – one night, I participated in a phone-in programme about Concorde on LBC, at 4.30 in the morning! My continuing affinity with Alpha Alpha still keeps me going today, as the editor of Mach 2 magazine.

It was also the final push that propelled me away from my previous life and into a new existence as a Concorde painter. The following pages show the stages so far on this journey, which is still nowhere near its end.

< 05 The Save Concorde Group | 07 Learning from the experts >

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